honey

LIVING WITH LESS | WHITE MISO + GINGER UDON SOUP

 

We just got word that our dad, my father-in-law, is administering medical aid to refugees currently living in tents at the port of Piraeus in Greece. He has said little else about it, but the thought of it has not been far from my mind. In a few weeks, we will be swimming in Greece's most beautiful waters, drinking coffee by the sea, and eating what we want, when we want. Not far from us will be refugees, forced from their homes and living in tents. It is a lot to reconcile, yes, but is it any different than living in comfort anywhere in the world? Does merely having oceans to safeguard us from disaster make us, somehow, more sympathetic? 

What a privilege to be able to choose less. Paring back—donating bags of clothing, dejunking your kitchen cupboards and throwing out expired food, selling your unwanted furniture—is a privilege of the comfortable. In fact, choice is a privilege of the comfortable, so often abused and misinterpreted as a right. Each of us lays claim to all manner of things. Mark and I are working ardently to cultivate our life according to an overarching philosophy that we do not own anything: nothing is ours outright, not even our blood lineage. All of us are of the Earth, belonging to no one absolutely. We have faith alone to call ours. If this is true of humanity, as I believe it is, then it is certainly true of stuff. Even the best of it — my pale pink Kitchenaid stand mixer, or Mark's ukulele that we bought from a craftsman in Greece, or the land we hope to one day heal and farm on — is for naught in the end. Genesis is echoed every year on Ash Wednesday, carrying with it the totality of existence: You are dust, and to dust you will return. What a relief. 

This need for less is something I have been wrestling with in Vermont, where we actually have "very little." I brought one Off Farm outfit, on account of being a chronic under-packer and believing I would not need many clothes. And I do not. My yellow sweater and black pants have held up perfectly well to daily wear. Yet I crave my clothes, of which I have many, that are currently living in my parents laundry room in Ohio. We are inhabiting someone else's space, equipped with all the necessities to get by quite comfortably: running water, electricity, a sharp knife, some cutting boards, books and blankets. We are blessed with the essentials, and still I miss Mark's and my things. The point is (I think) that when your accumulated goods are away from you, it becomes harder to claim you do not need them. Or it has been for me. Honesty in the name of the blog, I guess. Sharing this inner struggle embarrasses me, but in striving for improved humility and a more confident faith, I have set to sharing it.

So how does this tie in to photos of udon noodle soup? Ingredients have made this place feel like home. Having access to nourishing, cleansing, and comforting ingredients (hello, garlic) diminish the craving for anything else. I recently found a local jar of an ingredient on my Dream List of Ingredients: sweet white miso. Miso is fermented bean paste hailing from Japan, the addition of which makes everything taste better. This soup is focused on the miso + ginger broth and little else. It is wholesome, nutritive, and ready in no time.


WHITE MISO + GINGER UDON SOUP

INGREDIENTS

2 bundles udon noodles
salt + pepper to taste
2 tb. fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks bok choy
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 eggs
2 tbs. coconut oil
4 c. beef stock
1 1/2 c. water
1 tb. white miso
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tb. raw honey

STEPS
— warm coconut oil in a stock pot and sauté ginger and garlic until fragrant.
— add beef stock and water, cover and bring to simmer for five minutes.
— in a separate pot, bring water to a boil and then add udon noodles, cooking for five minutes. strain and set aside, saving the water to cook your eggs in (or don't, but it saves you a few minutes).
— in stock pot, add fish sauce*, carrots, and a dash or two of salt and pepper, simmering for five minutes. 
— cut the heat, and miso, honey, and bok choy. stir in and let the flavors marry while you soft boil your eggs.
— bring the noodle water back to a boil, and drop in eggs. hard boil for six minutes and then transfer to ice cold water. peel and slice the eggs in half.
— dish out the stock into bowls, add a handful of noodles, drop the eggs in, and top with a generous handful of scallions. lap it up with the bowl just beneath your chin, because it's fun that way.
*if you do not have fish sauce, i have read that you can sub soy sauce with a bit of worcestershire sauce.


—S

THE MORNING AFTER | A DOWN HOME NEW YEAR

 
a messy table
mark and george

We set up an improv stage and improv-ed for hours. We made Top 10 Best & Worst lists for 2015. We articulated to one another how we feel the world perceives us. We consumed home brew and prosecco and more wine. We taught each other our best dance moves. We conducted blind taste tests with spices. We slow cooked pork shoulder and baked mini dark chocolate cakes with from-scratch whipped cream and goat milk caramel. We dunked homemade bread into honey, and in the morning we made two French presses. It was so full; so good.

We set the table in a way that would have looked great in photos. But it was 8 p.m. before supper was ready and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc was already empty. So we forgot about photos and soaked up every moment of this best friend reunion. It was the sort of unkempt party that travels into the wee hours of the morning. The sort that begs to be reminisced over while fully extended on the couch, coffee in hand.

As a couple, we have worked to create a 400 square foot space that is overflowing with music, plants, and quality food. Always good food. When we eventually washed the copious dishes and vacuumed the rugs, we found ourselves remarking on how little money we have, yet we feel totally rich in experience and in food. That's the gorgeous reality of working in agriculture + food, in knowing farmers, in investing what little money you do have in growing (and brewing) your own.

Welcome, 2016. 

coffee mug
table setting
marky
andrew in the morning
music and plants

—S

NEW ADVENTURES + NEW FLAVORS | GOAT CHEESE TWO WAYS

 
TableSetting

I started a new job last month at a wonderful place called Lucky Penny Creamery. The opening was for a part-time delivery gig, butlike most life things—reality has strayed far from the plan. After a few weeks of building websites, running donation drives, and campaigning against national food policy, among other things, I am beginning to question the point of making any specific life plans at all. It has been an exciting, challenging, and slightly scary start to a new adventure.

With a new job comes new perks, and one particular benefit of my affiliation with Lucky Penny makes my life feel much fancier than it really is. A few times now, I have come home toting several pounds of goat cheese (or chèvre). This past weekend, that comically oversized bag of cheese was accompanied by an assignment to craft a simple holiday recipe using Lucky Penny's chèvre.

We developed two different spreads. The first, a Honey + Balsamic chèvre, is moderately sweet and tempers the tanginess of the goat cheese while maintaining the earthy integrity. Using good honey is the key. The second, an anything-but-sweet Winter Spice chèvre, is perfect for dolloping on eggs or a whole grain cracker. It's a little bit Moroccan, a little bit Indian, and very holiday-centric.

BowlofChevre
PouringCarrotJuice
carrot-juice
spreads

WILDFLOWER HONEY + BALSAMIC CHÈVRE
2 tb. Down Home honey (hey, that's us! but any local honey will be good)
1 tb. balsamic vinegar
1 c. Lucky Penny Creamery Chèvre

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or by hand, mix the honey and balsamic vinegar. Then, incorporate the chèvre, mixing until the texture is nice & creamy. Garnish with herbs if you've got 'em. We used a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.


WINTER SPICE CHÈVRE
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
dash carrot juice (optional)
1 c. Lucky Penny Creamery Chèvre

Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl. Then, in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or by hand, combine the spice mixture with the chèvre. Once mixed, you may add a dash of carrot juice. Or don't. It helps with the creaminess, but isn't critical.

Enjoy!


—M

BITTERSWEET | AN UNEXPECTED HONEY HARVEST

 
honey-jars

Our honeybees swarmed. That is to say, they left. We knew what we were getting into when we became beekeepers—we have read all about Colony Collapse Disorder, and we have heard our beekeeping mentor talk about how he continues to lose half of his hives each year. But none of that prevented our chests from tightening the way they did when we walked up to a silent hive early last week. It didn't change the feeling of sorrow we felt upon realizing what had happened. It didn't silence the persistent thoughts that we had failed as beekeepers in our mission to help save the bees.

Needless to say, our catchphrase "I can't wait to not be a first-year beekeeper" still rings true.

strainer-with-honey-dripping
cleaning-mason-jars
table-ready-for-honey
honey-from-tap
honey-in-progress

As it turns out, honey helps. It helps a lot. 

We had initially feared losing our bees after a long, cold Ohio winter—at which point, they could have already consumed most or all of the honey that they had stored from the previous season. However, since they chose to swarm during this unusually warm month of November, they left us with a bounty of liquid gold. How very bittersweet.

Harvesting raw honey is a very slow, very sticky processlike most things beekeeping. Our friends at The Wholesome Hive were kind enough to let me occupy their home for an entire morning & afternoon, uncapping honey comb & extracting honey using their hand-cranked centrifuge. After much straining & draining, I returned home with a very heavy bucketful of honey. 

After spending a small fortune on mason jars, the final, unexpected & bittersweet harvest of our first season as beekeepers is complete. We haven't finished weighing our product, but we estimate there is somewhere between 40 - 50 lbs of honey sitting on our kitchen table waiting to be gifted, bartered, and consumed. Thank you, honeybees, for your generosity. Though our hearts are broken, our coffers are full. And we know that we will be better beekeepers next year.

In the words of Jack Kerouac: "Praised be honey at the source."

holding-jar-of-honey

—M